by Suzanne L. Beenackers
I gave myself two hours on the evening of September the 19th, 2012, to come up with a review of the workshop I had taken that afternoon with model-turned-yogi Tara Stiles. Two hours to write a piece that didn’t contain the worn out title yoga rebel, nor mention the low prices at her New York yoga studio Strala. And I was going to do research. Lots of research. Not like the yoga magazine, the life style magazines, the vegan magazine, the glamour magazine, and the 53 other Dutch magazines that had finally come down from their mountaintops, rose from their meditation cushions, or crawled from under an old-fashioned rock, to write about the phenomenon that has been hard to miss. Tara has been viral on You Tube since 2007, originally for her model agency, and with a consistent feed and millions of views. Overlooking Tara Stiles is as unlikely as the Dutch world discoverer Abel Tasman who managed to miss Australia.
I would write that her work was my main inspiration for teaching, blogging and practicing. I was going to write about how she wears green socks, sun bleached jeans, and a smile without make-up. She plays rock music in her classes, she giggles, and she massages your back in childs pose as sweet as any two-year old would. I would describe the bright pool sides in her videos, the open oceans and the lakes. And little duckies. And how you can find over ten different videos of her doing yoga in bed.
Maybe my opening paragraph already gave away that I did not succeed. Whether it was my lack of skill, talent or time? It proved to be impossible to write a portrait of the lady who has it all, does it all, and is so disarmingly honest and nice, that you forgive her all. I mean, just in case Ford model look should bother you. Or the fact that she supplies weekly yoga videos for free. Or that she promotes healthy food in a fun way.
And yet? There has been controversy. A disdain in America, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the same professional arrogance caused the yogic Dutchies to choose to ignore her for so long, about the content of her videos and her books. She was said to be shallow, promoting yoga as a quick fix. Ironically, it is exactly her lighthearted quick fixes that are now getting her all the attention. Her new book Yoga Cures has been translated to Dutch, as Yoga Helpt. And will be in every magazine the upcoming months.
As for Abel Tasman, it didn’t end well. He beached on the shores of New Zealand instead, and almost met his end being cooked and served as Maori dinner.
Luckily for all of you, Tara Stiles is not easily offended and she promotes a plant based diet. With the exception of cookie waffles dipped in Nutella.